Meadow Gold deal falls through but new buyer emerges

Unnamed entity to purchase Hilo plant, Maui distribution facilities

A prospective deal for the purchase of Meadow Gold Hawaii by Industrial Realty Group has fallen through, with an unnamed party stepping in to acquire the Hilo plant and distribution facilities on Maui, Kauai and Hawaii island in a tentative agreement.

Meadow Gold’s parent company, financially troubled Dean Foods Co., announced the developments Monday in a news release. The agreement in principle with the new buyer does not include the Honolulu facility, which will close April 30.

The tentative agreement, which requires the approval of the Bankruptcy Court, includes the Meadow Gold Hawaii brand name, assets and intellectual property, with the exception of the Honolulu facility, the Dean Foods news release said.

The purchase also includes the Maui facility in Kahului, said Anne Divjak, vice president for government relations and external communications for Dean Foods.

The buyer and the terms of the tentative agreement have not yet been made public, she said Tuesday.

Dean Foods and its wholly owned subsidiaries have been under Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization since November. Parts of Dean Foods have been sold off.

With a deadline nearing to find a buyer, Dean Foods announced April 1 that it had reached an agreement in principle with Industrial Realty Group for the sale of Meadow Gold Hawaii. The tentative agreement called for Industrial Realty Group to acquire the assets, rights, interests and properties relating to Dean Foods’ Hilo and Honolulu facilities. Industrial Realty Group was to partner with 8 Cow Dairies, a Hawaii-based company, to manage operations.

Dean Foods said Monday that Industrial Realty Group terminated the agreement.

“We are unable to disclose any details other than that IRG terminated discussions with us last week, indicating that they did not wish to proceed with purchasing our Hawaii business,” said Divjak.

“We are extremely disappointed that we were unable to finalize an agreement for Industrial Realty Group to acquire our Hawaii operations,” said Eric Beringause, president and chief executive officer of Dean Foods, in the news release. “This was a difficult decision but, ultimately, given the timeline of our Chapter 11 restructuring we were not able to find a path forward that would enable our Honolulu operations to continue through our comprehensive court-supervised sale process.”

Beringause said that the new unnamed buyer “intends to continue the plant’s operations and maintain the Meadow Gold Hawaii brand name.”

Divjak said “the new buyer is acquiring the Meadow Gold Hawaii brand and will continue to produce Meadow Gold Hawaii products out of the Hilo facility.”

Meadow Gold Hawaii produces milk under the Meadow Gold Dairy Pure and TruMoo labels, ice cream and other dairy products as well as POG. While Meadow Gold’s beginnings go back to 1897, POG — the popular passion, orange and guava drink — actually was concocted on Maui by Haleakala Dairy.

In 1999, Meadow Gold bought Haleakala Dairy. Along with the drink, the dairy produced POG milk caps, which were modeled after the old-time milk cover games. POG games have since gone international.

Meadow Gold has had its share of owners and became part of Dean Foods in 2001.

“I want to thank our employees for their hard work, dedication and patience throughout this challenging process,” Beringause said. “We are grateful for their commitment to our customers and our company.”

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.


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